68th anniversary bonus post: What does Ron Tammen’s handwriting say about his personality?

Surprise! I mean, seriously, what kind of blogger would I be if I posted something a week before the anniversary of Ron Tammen’s disappearance and then had nothing for you to ponder on the 19th? This bonus post is something I’ve been keeping in my back pocket since 2013: an analysis of Ron Tammen’s handwriting as well as the handwriting of his father.

Mind you, I didn’t have much for the handwriting specialists to work with. The sample from Ron Sr. is far more helpful, since I have the letter he’d handwritten in the fall of 1952 granting Ron Jr. permission to take over his own finances. For Ron Jr., the best thing I had at the time were two signatures: one from his junior yearbook and the other from his senior yearbook, which I’d purchased on eBay. As luck would have it, the yearbooks were originally owned by an extremely outgoing classmate of Ron’s who, during their senior year, asked every single person in her class to sign their senior photo, and managed to get a respectable number of signatures during her junior year as well. Impressive hustle, Mary Ellen Kleckner!

As is often the case, I need to provide some caveats:

First, I don’t know very much about handwriting analysis. When I consider my own handwriting, I know that it’s changed substantially since high school, and now, no one can read it, myself included. Seriously, I can’t imagine what someone would say about my personality after reading a grocery list or birthday card from me other than “she doesn’t write very well.” 

Second, the skill seems fairly subjective, which is why I approached two people to look at Ron’s signature. I figured that if they said the same thing, that might carry more weight. (Maybe. I really don’t know.) One expert provided a quick assessment free of charge, and the other provided a more thorough assessment that I paid for. I’m not including the analysts’ names in this blog, only their assessments, however it appears to me that both hold strong credentials in their field.

Third, for the most part, I’m only including what the analyst said about the writing itself. If, for example, she shared her opinion of what might have happened to Ron based on some old news stories she found online (this was before my blog), I’ve left that part off. However, the analysis for Ron Sr. does discuss the content of the letter in addition to his style of writing. I’m letting it stand, but just be aware that it gives the analyst a head start when assessing his personality.

On the left is Ron’s junior yearbook and on the right is his senior yearbook. How fast can you find his signature on the left-hand page?

Ron Jr.

Analyst #1 had this to say:

A signature only reveals what the writer wants the world to think about him and isn’t very useful without additional writing to compare to. It would be important to know how congruent the signature and the writing are before being able to determine what it all means. 

As I said, a signature by itself doesn’t say much. The large capitals and clear writing suggest someone who thought a lot of himself, was probably ambitious and proud. He had an analytical mind and would dig for the facts of a matter. It’s hard to say for sure because this is a copy, but I wonder from the way the ink flows if he was ill. He may have had a problem in the abdominal area. [She later said this was due to the ink blobs in spots and how it was uneven in other areas.] He seems to have been open and outgoing, fairly consistent in his behavior.

Analyst #2 said this:

Note: The signature is representative of the public self image and shows how the writer would like to present himself to others and is not representative of the total personality. 

Mr. Tammen’s signature is clear and legible which indicates that he presents himself in an honest fashion. He has large capital letters showing a degree of confidence with the inflated capital R indicating a lot of emotional energy. The letters are all connected revealing that he is was a logical thinker with some analytical ability as seen in the pointed strokes in his m’s. His a’s and o’s are clear and closed showing that he is honest, but discreet in his communications. The loop in the “d” reveals some sensitivity to personal criticism while the higher second leg on the capital H shows that he had an ambitious nature. The squared r’s indicate good manual dexterity and the full “y” loop can be interpreted as ample energy and financial motivation.

She then said that her first impression of his signature was that it made her wonder about Ron’s sexual orientation.

Ron Sr.

Only Analyst #2 analyzed Mr. Tammen’s handwriting. Here’s a link to Mr. Tammen’s letter, and here’s what she said:

His writing indicates that he was a highly intelligent man who was concentrated and analytical in his thinking. He had a very logical and rational mind and could be skeptical and opinionated in his viewpoint. To convince him, a person would have to give very specific details and provide substantiated proof of their claims. He was not one to base his decision on intuition or emotion.

He operated more from intellect than ego and perhaps was self actualized and not looking for attention or recognition for his accomplishments. He was controlled and moderate in his display of self confidence and maintained his personal space and distance from others making him a bit unapproachable. He may have been somewhat aloof due to his station in life and could be tenacious in getting the results he desired.

As a father, he could be a firm, yet fair, but highly requiring. He had a domineering nature, but not in an aggressive or hurtful way. He may have set standards that he expected his children to achieve and could hand down stern reprimands if his expectations of them were not met. He could be discreet and diplomatic in his communications and, although not highly verbal, could probably rise to the occasion when he felt something needed to be said. He could be strict and controlling in managing both business and family.

His small, tight writing shows an intense and frugal nature, yet he was highly motivated by financial gain. His numbers reveal that he was very good with financial information and the only place he makes full loops in his writing is in the lower extensions of the y’s and g’s which represent his material and physical drive. It could be said that he had a lot of “money bags” in his writing.

In regard to what we have discussed about his son’s personality, it would be very hard for Ronald Tammen, Sr. to accept anything less than the standards of behavior and achievement he expected of his namesake.  

Honestly, I don’t know how much faith to put into handwriting analysis. I’d probably say that I possess a healthy skepticism, which is why I’ve been holding onto these assessments for so long. But people have asked me in the past if I’d tried it, so I wanted to at least show you all that I have. Also, the analyses are interesting, and some points do ring true, though there are other parts that I’m not sure about at all. (Case in point: the comment about Ron’s possible abdominal issues is kind of out there. Also, I would never draw conclusions regarding Ron’s sexual orientation based solely on his handwriting.) Just thought you might find this of interest too. If you have thoughts to share, feel free.

15 thoughts on “68th anniversary bonus post: What does Ron Tammen’s handwriting say about his personality?

  1. I find handwriting analysis more useful in the way they might develop (or maybe already have developed?) text message analysis – does the particular message look like something the person would normally write. You can copy someone else’s handwriting, but syntax is a lot harder to duplicate. (Ie claim it’s Susie messaging from Susie’s phone, but everyone knows she never texts in full sentences.) So analyzing the note at, say, the Jon Benet Ramsey murder, is definitely worth it to see if there are key words or phrases, sentence structure, etc. that members of the household would use, versus friends and family, versus complete strangers.

    As far as getting personality out of it, again I think in general a lot of things can affect handwriting, age, health, mental state, how often you write, the weather, type of writing utensil, etc. So you might be able to get some things out of it, but you couldn’t ever be absolutely certain. As someone who was just diagnosed with ADHD, I learned that people with ADHD traditionally have sloppy handwriting, but if you just committed a murder and have limited time to cover it up, you may not be as concerned with how neat your writing is.

    1. Sounds very reasonable. So far, I don’t have much to go on regarding people’s handwriting, other than signatures. But your point about analyzing words, phrases, and sentences—that I definitely have been doing, particularly in the case of St. Clair Switzer.

      1. It also occurred to me awhile ago, but I forgot to comment, that profile of Ron Sr is literally every TV dad in the 50s and early 60s (thanks, McCarthyism, for blacklisting and/or jailing half of Hollywood, perpetuating false stereotypes of America, and setting television back by decades). I’m also reminded of such fathers created around that time in literature, such as the first YA novel “Catcher in the Rye” (or at least Holden’s perception of his parents).

      2. I just reread it, and you’re so right. TV/literature played a huge role in perpetuating a myth of what a typical dad should be back then. But I’d also add that many dads in the 1950s were indeed complicated beings, maybe because they were being held to those strange, concocted, McCarthy-era standards. John (Ron’s older brother) has probably shared the most about Mr. Tammen—both to me and in his letters to Marcia. John revered Mr. Tammen his entire life, but the respect he had for him had more to do with the fact that Mr. Tammen was a self-made man and a logical thinker and he was brimming with advice on how to get ahead. To be honest, I didn’t hear any stories about his human side. Nothing about playing with them as kids or helping them with homework or watching a movie together or whatever. (You know, like the kinds of stories that Charles Findlay’s son had shared about Charles…the day-to-day “dad” stuff.) I have no idea if Mr. Tammen was the kind of father who told his children out of the blue that he loved them, though I’m guessing not. (I’m saying that as someone whose own ’50s-era father didn’t toss the phrase around much either.) Despite John’s fond feelings for Mr. Tammen, others who knew him felt differently. Women who married into the family spoke of his cruelty, especially to Mrs. Tammen. A childhood friend of Ron’s described him as aloof, which was a word used by the handwriting expert as well. I’m sure there was a softer side to him, though, especially as he got older. In “The Phantom of Oxford” video, he seems very caring and soft-spoken. But yeah, Mr. Tammen was, in a word, complex, and I’m sure there was far more to him than what is described in the handwriting expert’s profile.

      3. I definitely can’t comment on Mr. Tammen’s personality or behavior, which was sort of more what I was leaning toward; unless analyst #2 had other sources, her conclusions to me seemed ultimately based off of pop culture. Of course it’s hard to interpret things after decades or second-hand through the internet.

        I definitely agree that 1950s dads were complex, which is kind of what made me skeptical of the profile; it just seemed really cliche. Both my Greatest Generation grandfathers were complicated men, and complete opposites of each other. From what you’ve described, my maternal grandpa would be most similar to Mr. Tammen. He only cared about people when they did things that interested him, and definitely wanted to carve his kids and students into mini-mes; my mother was only allowed to figure skate instead of “having” to play a musical instrument because he decided he enjoyed skating. (It probably helped that her learn-to-skate teacher encouraged the parents to also take lessons so they could understand what their kids were doing.) Between my brother and me, I was the only grandchild who received any attention because I was interested in music while my brother preferred sports.

        He also did some really despicable things that kind of make me wonder if Mr. Tammen would have dropped Ron like a hot potato if he hadn’t disappeared. I feel like it’s possible time and the reality that you’re probably never going to see your son again may have been what softened his feelings. It doesn’t take a show called “The First 48” for most people to notice that if a missing person isn’t found quickly, they generally don’t come to a good end, even if Ron’s case seems to be otherwise.

        Again, I don’t know Mr. Tammen or his life story, but my grandfather’s childhood likely turned him into a narcissist, and the Great Depression screwed with a lot of kids. (Also the father dying before you’re born, likely of Spanish flu, Christian Scientist mother, half-sister that would remind everyone the man who adopted you a two was her REAL dad, etc. Doesn’t give you permission to act a certain way, but it explains it.)

      4. That’s so interesting about your grandfather. Yeah, I think families are messy, no matter the generation. It’s almost unavoidable. Regarding Mr. Tammen, if Ron did happen to be gay or bisexual, Mr. Tammen likely wouldn’t have been accepting of it, which was a common reaction back then. Ron was ashamed of his mother, and he may have felt as if his father would disown him if he found out. If Ron chose to leave home for good, I’m sure that would have played a big part in his decision. In fact, it’s almost as if Ron’s decision was made for him.

  2. The analyst’s claim to think Ron was sick is bizarre, and immediately makes me skeptical of everything else.

    I can read your writing just fine. My ability to read my own left handed chicken scratches has paid off in my ability to read most everyone else’s. I noticed the r in “read” and “cheers” are quite different.

    1. Lol! Hmm…come to think of it, I do a combination of half-script and half-printing a lot. Wonder what that means. On another front, I believe I made some interesting discoveries today concerning the interview with Carl Knox’s secretary. I now think I’ve narrowed it down to having taken place sometime between 2006 and 2008. I’ll fill everyone in when I have everything pieced together, but…everything seems to be piecing together.

  3. Hi everyone — Today, I heard from a friend who has expertise in many, many areas, and I just learned of a new area: graphology (handwriting)! Here are a few of the points he raised with me:

    1) When I paraphrased Analyst #2’s reason for wondering about Ron’s sexual orientation, I was trying to be careful regarding the meaning of the words she’d used, which were out-of-date. However, in doing so, I was perpetuating a stereotype that I in no way support. I’ve corrected the verbiage, and am grateful for his comment.

    2) He agrees with the point made by both analysts that the signature is what you’re trying to project to the world about who you are, not necessarily who you really are.

    3) From his study of graphology, he’s learned that you cannot extrapolate physical illness from handwriting unless it’s ragged, weak and jittery, denoting muscle weakness, which could indicate, most likely, old age or dementia.

  4. Thanks!! This is all so interesting. You have done an amazing job. And the missing fingerprints…wow.

  5. Hi have you thought about looking into forensic astrology for the night he went missing? I know it is a stretch but so is handwriting analysis. I think it could tell us a lot. 🙂

    1. Hi — I haven’t. For now, I’m sticking with what’s in my comfort zone/area of expertise, which is all about getting my hands on archival documents. That said, I don’t have a problem with someone else trying that method to look into Ron’s disappearance. I mean, it couldn’t hurt. It’s just not my area of interest or expertise.

  6. April 19, 2021 is just about 57 minutes away.
    It has been an extremely difficult week for me.
    68 years of a missing brother, Ron. The first of which has another missing person in the midst.
    My best friend, Marcia J. Tammen, Ron’s ever faithful sister who passed away on 8.31.20.
    Until just minutes ago, I never saw nor if I did, payed any attention to his signature.
    Marcia’s signature was beautiful. Just like her brothers. In fact, Ron’s signature and Marcia’s is quite similar. The T in Tammen blew me away.
    Ohh our DNA.
    Stay close to a family and you can hear the similarity in voice, body movements, etc.
    The Tammens lived in a small home.
    Values, plans and dreams were probably what their table talk was about. Marcia loved telling me about the meals shared at dinner.
    I can’t imagine what Mrs. Tammen must have felt like sorting thru her son’s remaining items of clothes for Ron,Jr.
    I can tell you how painful it was for me to just finish Marcia’s last 3 bags of her clothes. I kissed the last piece on Friday. At least I know where she is.
    All she ever wanted to know . . .is what happened to her older brother.

    1. Jule—Thank you so much for sharing these lovely and loving thoughts. Marcia’s signature was indeed beautiful. It hadn’t occurred to me how similar their signatures were, but you’re so right. Thank you so much for these remembrances.

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